It was the year of Live Aid, the miners’ strike ended, the first ever call on a mobile phone was made in the UK and Tears for Fears, Simple Minds and A-Ha were all charting, when a 12-year-old Sylvia Boker (LEH 1980-1991) completed an epic school project all about… LEH!
Sylvia, who is now a personal trainer and runs the local Buggyfit postnatal exercise class in Bushy Park, came across the thick tome when she was having a recent clear out and decided that rather than just put it in the bin, she’d offer it to the LEH archive.
She says: “It is a huge piece of work. I think I even received a history prize for it that year. I had interviewed a former pupil who was already a very old lady at the time of our conversation and I thought it might be filled with information which may not be available anymore. It seemed such a shame to throw it away.”
Archivists Trish White and Elizabeth Hossain, who are both former teachers at LEH, were very interested to see it and marvelled at the amount of work that had gone into embroidering the cover and illustrating the document throughout.
The project features a detailed index, extracts from original records, an exploration of the school history and a bibliography, as well as copies of the school timetable, excerpts from past and present school magazines and accounts of visiting the former sites of the school in East London and the City.
Sylvia concludes the assignment with the portentous words: “Now my project has come to an end. I have learnt from it and enjoyed collecting the information and putting the project together. Tomorrow is a new day for me to gather more knowledge. I still have many years ahead of me in this school and I intend to use them wisely for they are the bridge to a different life where I will have to stand on my own feet. The years are precious seeds of life which must not be spoilt.”
Sylvia attended LEH from the age of seven, right up to A levels and has many happy memories of her time here and is still in touch with lots of classmates. As a native German speaker, she particularly enjoyed studying German, and loved English and drama, especially directing a play in the sixth form.
She recalls: “I was really bad at ball sports at school so it is ironic that I am now a personal trainer. I am not very coordinated and could never catch a netball, lacrosse ball or tennis ball. Sometimes I used to hide in the toilets during PE lessons with other PE absconders!
“I remember one Sports teacher telling me that I would be fat and unfit when I was 40, and her words spurned me on to keep going as I ran towards the finishing line of Ironman Switzerland in 2011. I discovered sport after school and firmly believe that there is an activity out there for everyone. I enjoy triathlons, especially long distance ones but my passion is for swimming and open water swimming which has amazing mental and physical health benefits.”
After working in HR for several years, she retrained as a Montessori School Assistant while her children were young. She then decided to turn her hobby into her job and qualified as a personal trainer and worked with GPs who refered patients with health issues which could be helped by exercise.
“I love helping people to make themselves feel better and actually have decided what I really want to do is go back to university and retrain as a physiotherapist which I hope to do in September 2021.”
In fact Sylvia is making a special appeal to the LEH network: “If there are any LEH alumnae who could offer NHS physiotherapist work experience to a quite old university applicant, then I would be delighted to hear from them as it is a prerequisite for my UCAS application! LEH inspired my love of learning and I am hoping that you are never too old to go back to university!”
If you can help Sylvia, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org